Farewell, Daily Post: A Very Special MCC Clipfest

Mega Jenga!

Sooner or later all games must come to an end, as in the collapse of this adult-sized, hand-crafted Mega-Jenga collapse at a 2012 gathering with my wife’s cousins.

Over the past several years the good folks at WordPress.com, facilitators of this very website you now clutch in your device, have provided bonus services to users in the form of The Daily Post. A fine team of editors provided springboards for would-be bloggers who were interested in writing but needed ideas, offered networking opportunities between WordPress users like me who lack the skills to meet fellow entertainers, start conversations, find the right cliques, and expand both their online reach and their Friends lists. The Daily Post’s guidance came in the form of writing prompts every day, weekly mixers for new bloggers to ask questions and seek suggestions, and the regularly scheduled themed “challenges”, which invited our take on whatever particular word of phrase came to the editors’ minds. We were free to interpret and respond to their suggestions at our discretion, then seek out other respondents and compare their approaches to ours. It was a fun way for WordPress customers across the board to expand their horizons and bond as a community.

Alas, that era of fun corporate block parties has come to an end. As of May 31st The Daily Post has shuttered its services and will no longer offer new topics or assignments for our use. We writers, photographers, artists, poets, mommy-bloggers, retired wool-gatherers, lecturers, fireside storytellers, collegiate navel-gazers, marketer wannabes, spammers posing as humans, and all-around social typists are left to our own devices, to create our own ideas from whole cloth, and to figure out how to network without trained professionals lending us a hand. Frankly, some of us may be doomed.

Regardless! Over the past six years we’ve had our own stories to tell and opinions to express here on MCC, and are in no danger of running out anytime soon. Current projections show that I may be in for awkward times around late 2019, but for now we’re good. Throughout the long history of the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenges and Weekly Writing Challenges, MCC participated roughly 95 times among our 1700+ entries to date. The Daily Post’s editors signed off their final programming week with a retrospective of their favorite results from years past. Now, it’s MCC’s turn. The following is a look back at our most popular Weekly [whatever] Challenge submissions — the all-time favorites as determined by You, The WordPress Viewers at Home.

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Our Privacy Practices Have Changed! Please Come Back Now, Europe?

Certificate of Completion!

We did it! We did it! Now someone tell our European readers we’re safe and legal again.

Over the past few days, internet users have been flooded with notifications from various websites, apps, and mailing lists they signed up for in a previous millennium, all declaring the official implementation of new updates to their privacy practices as mandated by the General Data Protection Regulation, Europe’s latest tool in the war on online shenanigans. At the core, it’s a good thing — European residents using computing gadgets should now have more insight and control into how their personal data is collected, stored, used, abused, and repurposed into fuel for the corporate engines that rely on us to be their consumer puppets. On a certain level it feels like an annoying form of paranoia, but this is the kind of response that occurs when multi-billion-dollar companies can’t give straight, morally upright answers to basic questions about what they do with all the 1s and 0s they harvest from our keystrokes.

As is wont to happen in the wake of radical societal upheavals, Comedy Twitter has been having a field day with the wave of emails, notifications, and pop-ups they’ve been receiving from organizations and proprietors desperate to comply and eager to keep their traffic from European visitors uninterrupted. I’ve laughed at too many to relay here without diminishing the effect, but some responses have been comedy gold.

Then tonight I found out even my own site was affected. I didn’t see that coming.

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WordPress.com Magic Elves Offer Colorful Second Opinion of My 2015

Happy New Year, internet! Here’s hoping everyone’s 2016 is a vast improvement over the unbelievably tragicomic 2015, just like the genetically superior Star Wars: The Force Awakens helped everyone put Revenge of the Sith behind them for good.

As in years past, those all-knowing stats overseers at WordPress.com have compiled an automated 2015 Annual Report for each and every blogger on their roster, complete with vaguely art-deco New Year’s fireworks that you can use for Twitter Profile wallpaper or whatever.

In addition to revealing the 148 countries that visited us last year, as well as the identities of MCC’s five greatest commenters of the year who deserve cash awards, there’s also this sample statistic that you can use for comparing where we stand against millions of other, actually popular sites:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 49,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 18 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report! It’s short and they made pictures an’ stuff.

But wait! There’s more!

Right this way for a rundown of MCC’s memorable 2015 moments that you may have missed!

Prayers and Thoughts Needed for the Rarasaur Family

Grayson Queen.

Rarasaur’s husband Dave, a.k.a. “Grayson Queen”.

Last year around this time, MCC brought you an inadequate summation of the story of Rarasaur, an optimistic, indefatigable, widely beloved WordPress blogger who’d been sent to prison under deplorable circumstances.

As of this writing she’s still serving the remaining time on her sentence. We asked for your prayers, thoughts, and other forms of benevolence on her behalf. The happy dinosaur button in the lower-right corner of this page remains in place as tribute. Before The MAN sent her up the river, she was among the neatest of the coolest of the awesomest ’round these parts.

In her absence, her husband continued his own blog and self-publishing efforts under the name Grayson Queen. It goes without saying that times were tough for him throughout her initial months away, but a series of entries earlier this year had indicated an upswing in his fortunes, new employment opportunities, and a renewed dedication to the pursuit of his creative endeavors.

Up until last week, anyway. In the two most recent entries he reported signs of physical issues that to me sounded downright frightening at the time. His subdued writing style conveyed some slight urgency, but not really panic. Maybe he downplayed the symptoms. Maybe he did have them under control. Maybe they were wholly unrelated to what happened next.

Last night the WordPress community received word from the couple’s loyal friend DJ Matticus that he passed away this week at age 35.

At the moment few details are available, but the gracious Mr. Matticus, who’s already been immensely generous in helping to relay Rara’s ongoing behind-bars journals to her fans where possible, has provided what little is known, and he’s provided contact info for anyone who’d like to mail condolences, prayers, thoughts, or other direly needed supportive expressions of love to Rara during this absolutely tragic worst-case scenario.

I’m fumbling for words on this inconceivable occasion, but that last link has the important details and an outpouring of heartfelt words in their honor.

Thanks sincerely for your consideration.

#RawrLove

WordPress.com Magic Elves Offer Colorful Second Opinion of My 2014

Happy New Year, internet! Here’s hoping 2015 personally comes to your house, pushes 2014 down a staircase, pushes a piano down the stairs after it, blames it on 2013, and works double overtime to be a vastly better year for you. I won’t tell on 2015 if you won’t.

As in years past, those all-knowing stats overseers at WordPress.com have compiled an automated 2014 Annual Report for each and every blogger on their roster, complete with New Year’s fireworks that you can pretend is a handy screensaver by leaving your computer on and your browser open 24/7.

Right this way for the link to the report, and a rundown of unique MCC entries you may have missed!

Rallying for Rarasaur.

Rarasaur!

The original Rarasaur mascot says hi!

Once upon a time, there was a happy, prolific blogger named Rara, read and loved by many. In her time on WordPress she’s been a font of creativity, effervescence, community spirit, encouragement, whimsy, thoughtfulness, and simple ways of pulling out of downward spirals. She’s been featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed main stage more than once. She’s been a frequent guest contributor on other sites, from relative unknowns to the official site for The Queen Latifah Show.

Full disclosure: I’m a follower. We’ve exchanged comments back and forth on each other’s sites and shared geek thoughts and sensibilities. Many, many other folks in the WordPress community could say the same and have better, more inspirational stories to tell. She’s respected and cheerily infectious that way.

And then one dreadful day she saw coming, The MAN sent Rara to jail.

How you can help in little ways…

WordPress.com Magic Elves Offer Colorful Second Opinion of My 2013

Happy New Year, readers and skimmers alike! Here’s hoping 2014 proves to be the Greatest Year of All Time. At the very least, maybe it’ll help us forget the parts where 2013 let us down and still has a lot to answer for.

For MCC’s second New Year, the happy-go-lucky stats wranglers at WordPress.com have compiled an automated 2013 Annual Report for each and every blogger on their roster, complete with fireworks and eye-popping design work and a world map in case you prefer practical gifts. In addition to the facts and figures I already reported yesterday with my own manually culled year-end review, this report also helpfully confirms which WordPress bloggers left me the most comments last year and therefore deserve innumerable treasures in Heaven and possibly also baked goods. You should subscribe to all of them so they can rise to fame and I can write entries about how I’m one of the Little People who knew them way back when.

For the intensely curious, WordPress’ report also reveals which of my 2012 entries absolutely refuses to die. It didn’t exactly go viral or receive attention from any major online sources I’m aware of, but passersby just keep clicking it and clicking it and clicking it and now the report thinks I ought to consider churning out more daily posts exactly like it, despite how impractical this would be on multiple levels.

Have some sample artwork as an additional incentive. Ya like colors? It has colors.

The weirdest statistic it reveals:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 80,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 3 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the report in all its scintillating wonder!

That most important part, once more with emphasis:

Happy New Year!

So You Want to Be a Super Awesome “Freshly Pressed” All-Star

WordPress "Freshly Pressed" badgeA fake reader lurking within my subconscious writes:

Dear Mr. Crossover,

Hello! How are you? I am fine. I have been using WordPress.com for four years. Please follow my blog and reblog all three of my posts so far, because I just Liked a random post you wrote last month without reading it and now you owe me. I have another question. I read your About page and it says you had three different posts on Freshly Pressed, which is a really big deal because it means WordPress likes you best. I think that’s really unfair and you didn’t deserve it and I want to know your secret. How can I be more like you and get Freshly Pressed so that I can become famous and everyone will like me and then I can write for Hollywood and make enough money to buy your website and set it on fire and run over the ashes in my new Humvee? Also, I nominated you for a Liebster Award and I will Follow you if you Follow me.

Sincerely,
N.V.S. Strawman
Exposition, WY
http://ripoffsweatshopfashions.wordpress.com

Dear Mr. Strawman,

I wish you hadn’t asked, but I can tell you what I’ve learned from the experiences that changed my life forever and made me Hero of the Internets. As you begin reading, prepare to rethink your entire existence piece by piece, until every second becomes retroactively spectacular from Day Zero onward.

Click here for handy tips on how to be me!

Our Dog Lucky vs. Hawkeye’s Dog Lucky: a Companion Comparison

Seven years ago after moving into a new home, our family was joined by a dog named Lucky. Last year when the Avenger known as Hawkeye moved into his own solo series, he was joined by a dog named Lucky. I like to pretend this means something significant in the grand scheme. What are the odds of our dogs having the same name? Sure, it could be wild coincidence, and probably is.

Our Lucky’s previous owners were relatives who found that raising three kids was all the daily stress test they could handle. Due to a combination of the newborn’s safety issues and the oldest child’s apathy onset, Lucky had been spending most of his days caged and ignored, with nothing to occupy his time except storing energy so that every time he was released, he became a furry little whirling dervish. My wife’s previous dog had passed away several months before, leaving a dog-shaped hole in our hearts. We proposed a win-win exchange: we would accept Lucky into our home, and they would be free to replace him with a pocket-sized rodent more in line with the oldest child’s pet preferences. We decided not to change his name since he was already used to it.

At first glance, Lucky’s feisty demeanor seemed harmless.

young Lucky, dog

Hawkeye’s Lucky was owned by tracksuit-wearing gangsters from eastern Europe who had called him Arrow for reasons unknown, possibly because they were fans of American weapons terminology. Lucky was abused, surely taken for granted, and probably fed the nastiest, mealiest dog food around. Something with bits of vermin added for flavor, I’d bet. During a fracas between Hawkeye and the dogs, “Arrow” ended up on the losing side of a car collision. After sending the goons packing, Hawkeye rushed the dog in for emergency treatment, effectively took custody, and eventually renamed him Lucky. He’s sometimes referred to by the affectionate nickname “Pizza Dog” because the cast keeps giving him people food.

At first sight, Lucky’s grievous bodily harm appeared alarming.

Hawkeye, Hawkguy, Lucky, Pizza Dog

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Smartphone Test Post Requires Light Backpedaling for Longtime Smartphone Hater

If you search the MCC archives for “no smartphones” you’ll find an old entry in which this author grouses about his issues with our world’s favorite communication tool and/or babysitter.  Since humans retain the enviable privilege to change their minds as circumstances warrant, I’m invoking that privilege to give WordPress’ QuickPress app a whirl on the new phone I bought last weekend.

For the record: with my son leaving for college in the fall, setting up a means of keeping in touch and/or sending emergency notifications seemed prudent.  This tiny, cracker-sized gizmo won’t be usurping our PC anytime soon, but eschewing it merely because of other users’ disagreeable behaviors is no longer an option on the table.  I’m proud to report that so far I’ve yet to succumb to any temptation to use this while driving, working, or having dinner with my family.  Knock on wood.

I don’t expect to use QuickPress too often, but it’s nice to have an option in case inspiration strikes at the oddest times.

Gonna need lots more practice typing on this dollhouse keyboard, though.  Seems to be a device better suited for shorter thoughts and much, much shorter words.  With the way I talk and think, AutoText is only getting me so far.  Argh.

[UPDATED, next morning via PC: added link to last year’s entry in question.]

Welcome, New Bloggers! Your Default “About” Page is Showing.

Far be it from me to convince myself that 350+ consecutive daily MCC entries and fourteen years of Internet participation experience (dating to the era when Usenet was ebbing but not dying, and “social media” wasn’t a labeled thing) are sufficient credentials to hoist myself upon an ornate pedestal and begin dispensing wisdom from above to fellow WordPress users about The Correct Way to Do Blogging. For reasons that would require a separate entry altogether, I don’t even like dispensing constructive criticism to other online writers, let alone have the ego to declare myself in the sensei business. One glance at MCC’s minimal visual design should provide evidence enough that I have a multitude of lessons yet to learn for myself.

Regardless, longtime bloggers can agree on a few of the most basic of basics. Today’s message is about one of those super-basic basics.

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Why I’m Not Yet Hoarding Ebooks by the Dozen

Michael A. Stackpole, In Hero Years...I'm DeadFun trivia: I bought my very first ebook at GenCon 2012. When I accompanied my wife in the autograph line for Michael A. Stackpole, author of some of her favorite Star Wars Expanded Universe novels (several books in the Rogue Squadron series), I was surprised that one of the few items for sale at his table was a superhero novel called In Hero Years…I’m Dead. In lieu of hard copies, Stackpole had it available only on disk in ebook format. Undaunted by my complete lack of an eReader, I bought a copy anyway, for a few reasons:

1. I rarely buy much at GenCon because I’m not a gamer. The only vendors to extract profit from me were Stackpole and Oni Press, the only professional comics publisher on site.

2. I read the Rogue Squadron graphic novels Stackpole wrote for Dark Horse Comics once upon a time. Not bad, considering I read none of the novels and had no idea who most of the characters were. (Wedge, yes. The others, my wife had to explain to me.)

3. I’ve found the best way to spur myself into trying a new medium is to buy a work first, then worry about the device later. We owned our first DVD (The Phantom Menace) months before I bought my first DVD player. Likewise, the Blu-ray in my Up combo pack waited a good while before I could do anything with it. So there’s a precedent.

I’d like to read Stackpole’s novel at some point. As of this writing, though, I still have no eReader. I didn’t ask for one for Christmas. It wasn’t targeted on my Black Friday hunt. I’m not saving up for one. It’s not even on my wish list.

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A Photo Salute to Vacation Illumination

This week’s edition of the WordPress.com Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge spotlighted the theme of Illumination. Not just a recurring motif in various works of quality literature; not just the name of a thundering Rollins Band track; illumination is also an occasional guest star on our family’s past vacations. It peeks around or from within seemingly innocent objects, dares us to snap usable photos of it, and offers extra credit if we can write it a spiritually themed caption.

Behold my sextet of entrants from my own collection, submitted in the categorical competition of light and light accessories, narrowed down of my own volition to sightseeing experiences:

Before climbing the heights of the Statue of Liberty, visitors can enter the pedestal and see her retired parts, including a former torch that once lit the way for hopeful immigrants, but is now residing in a windowless room where it can reminisce about its glory years in peace.

Statue of Liberty, torch, Liberty Island, New York

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WordPress.com Magic Elves Offer Colorful Second Opinion of My 2012

Important part first: Happy New Year’s to one and all!

Here’s hoping 2013 will be Best Year Ever for all of you, whether you’re planning to expand on your 2012 achievements and victories, secretly wishing for a complete do-over, or were born within the past hour and have no basis for comparison.

Since most readers are either partying or recovering (depending on how soon this is being read), I’ve allowed myself to relax a little more than usual tonight, spending more time with family than with keyboard. It’s my understanding that correcting this imbalance at least three or four days per year is strongly recommended by most of my relatives, biased though they are. That meant less time for writing and more for board games, but in my mind it’s an exchange more than fair, even though my wife and son refused to let me unleash our Scrabble set and trounce them both just once.

In lieu of an overlong piece about New Year’s resolutions (expect something along those lines tomorrow, because of worldwide mandatory blogging bylaws), the following Very Special Report is provided as a treat for my fellow blog stat junkies, or for fans of cute animated fireworks.

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Undeserving Husband Celebrates Underserved Wife’s Birthday with Underwhelming Haiku

Midlife Crisis Crossover

2011 file photo. Author not responsible for the photo editing.

[Based on the wealth of evidence I provide here each week, one could mount a convincing argument that I dwell too much on entertainment media and not nearly enough on What Really Matters. During some extra-logorrheic weeks, one might also wonder if I’m psychologically blocked from clicking the “Publish” button until I’ve clambered past the 1,000-word mark every time. For such doubters, I offer six words of temporary relief:

And now for something completely different.

In honor of my wife’s birthday, I present high art. Wait, no, scratch that — just haiku. And not the great kind with birds or flowers or natural waterways. Sorry.]

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Grateful for “Freshly Pressed” Status, Hoping Not to Turn into Egomaniacal One-Hit Wonder

WordPress "Freshly Pressed" badgeFirst things first: I owe a truckload of gratitude to the WordPress staffer who selected last Friday evening’s entry, “The Day an Empty Chair Ruled the Internet” as a feature selection for the WordPress.com Freshly Pressed page. Before that happened, I honestly thought the page was automated and random. Based on the gracious emails I received that offered me some proofreading and specific content input before the FP slotting went live, I’ve confidently shelved that theory.

I also owe many sincere thanks to you, the Viewers at Home, who were kind enough to give it a look-see and leave feedback. The response has overwhelmed me more with its kindness and generosity than with its appreciable volume. My Labor Day weekend took a vastly different direction than the quiet doldrums I’d anticipated. Keeping up with the replies has been a fun ‘n’ lively time, and I’ve also found myself with a plethora of new blogs and writers to check out.

For anyone who’s returned here and sampled any fare beyond the Empty Chair Blues, it’s my sincere hope that other future entries will be of some use or entertainment value to you as well. I aim for one entry per day, based on whatever’s preoccupying my mind at any given moment. The inconsistent MCC experience is fairly consistent with the scattershot nature of my aging mindset. Nine times out of ten it’s entertainment (comics, movies, TV, whatever) because of my lifelong unapologetic nerdist tendencies and my never-ending curiosity about the arts and assorted acts of creation from a variety of perspectives. Every so often I open up about my faith, though not nearly as often as I should. As special events have been occurring of late, I’ve shared experiences with fan conventions and our family’s annual road trips. Once in a blue moon I’ll write something about Indiana, even though no one ever reads those, not even other Hoosiers.

I assume “Empty Chair” will be escorted off the FP page in due time, and my daily experience here will remain on track. I’ll do my best to hold onto my sense of proportion and not print up thousands of business cards bearing the FP stamp and the obnoxious, self-anointed title of CERTIFIED WRITER. If I do, please shoot me down…and feel free to take a card.

Thanks for reading, and a round of hugs for everyone.

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